Andy Mohr Field played host to Senior Day for IU’s three graduating players and welcomed one of the hottest Big Ten teams in the form of Rutgers.
Rutgers had won eight of its last 10 games coming into the weekend. Just two conference wins separated IU and Rutgers, setting up a crucial weekend series.
Friday evening’s game was lopsided from the start with IU pulling ahead quick and putting Rutgers away early. The Scarlet Knights got on the board first with a run-scoring double in the first inning, but that’s all they would get the rest of the game.
Consecutive doubles in the bottom of the second inning from sophomore Grayson Radcliffe and junior Katie Lacefield gave IU its first runs of the game and sparked the rest of the lineup. In total, IU tagged Rutgers for 11 hits, three extra base hits and four stolen bases en route to a dominant 9-1 run-rule victory.
“I thought we played extremely well in all three phases of the game. We hit the ball well, had solid pitching and great defense,” IU Head Coach Shonda Stanton said. “It was nice to see us attack good pitches and hit the ball hard.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game, IU held a pregame ceremony honoring seniors Tara Trainer, Sarah Galovich and Jessica Conenna.
Once the action got underway, it was Radcliffe and Lacefield who did all of the damage for IU. The sophomore shortstop blasted her team-leading eighth home run of the year to put the Hoosiers up 1-0 early. Radcliffe would come around to score again in the fourth inning as Lacefield doubled to the right center field gap.
It looked as if IU was on its way to a shutout victory, but a two-run home run in the sixth inning from Rutgers’ Anyssa Iliopoulos knotted the game up at 2-2.
With an opportunity to win in walk-off fashion, IU called upon freshman utility Brittany Ford to pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh, and she promptly delivered with a leadoff double. Three batters later, junior Gabbi Jenkins sent the first pitch she saw into the right field gap, giving IU a 3-2 walk-off win over Rutgers.
“That’s what it’s about, the people you’re doing it with,” Jenkins said. “A lot of this would mean nothing if we weren’t doing with the people around us here at IU.”
The series finale Sunday had IU looking for its second conference sweep of the season, but sloppy defense and shaky pitching hurt IU.
The first pitch of the ballgame from Goodin was taken deep for a leadoff home run. Three errors in the first three innings also did IU no favors as Rutgers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
IU tried to mount a comeback thanks to a run-scoring single from sophomore Annika Baez and a solo home run off the bat of sophomore Maddie Westmoreland. But IU wasn't able to make up the entire deficit.
The usually great Hoosiers pitching staff faltered Sunday as well, allowing five walks while only striking out six batters. The lone bright spot was junior pitcher Josie Wood, who in three innings of relief work, gave up just one hit and struck out two batters.
With the series victory, IU improves to 33-19 overall, and 8-12 in conference play.
“We can dig deep and maybe the overall results in Big Ten play aren’t where we want them to be, but let’s look at all these moments,” Stanton said. “We haven’t peaked, but I’m excited about where we are.”
Up next for IU is the regular season finale as the team travels to face Penn State on Friday night.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
Thompson is irreplaceable for the Warriors.
IU will have an eight-day break before the beginning of the NCAA Tournament.
IU has now lost its Big Ten Tournament opener five straight years.